Little Mole’s Wish

h1 December 13th, 2019 by jules

“‘Hi,’ he said, greeting the snowball with his nose.”


Little Mole’s Wish (Schwartz & Wade, November 2019), originally published in South Korea, is the U.S. debut for author-illustrator Sang-Keun Kim, who lives in Seoul. (I’m not precisely sure what this book’s relationship is to Little Mole’s Worry, evidently named the Best Picture Book of the Year in 2015 in Korea.) I’ve got some spreads here today from this gentle winter story (which Kirkus named one of their Best Picture Books of 2019), translated by Chi-Young Kim.

Little Mole doesn’t have any friends and immediately makes one with a small snowball he meets. After packing a bit more snow onto it, he decides to take the snowball home, but Mr. Bear of Mr. Bear’s bus forbids him from bringing a snowball on the bus. Little Mole then animates the snow ball by giving it arms and eyes, but Mr. Fox of Mr. Fox’s bus won’t have that “lump of snow” either, thanks very much. Then, after Little Mole makes a backpack of snow for the snowball (now snow creature) and loans it his knit hat, Mr. Deer of Mr. Deer’s bus tells them to hop on. While they journey home, the bus is so “cozy and warm” that Little Mole falls asleep, and he wakes to the absence of his new friend. (If you’re reminded of Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman, which always puts a lump in my throat, you’re not alone.)

At home, Grandma consoles Little Mole, who misses his new companion. The next morning, she calls to him to run outside to see his “special visitor.” On a wordless spread, we see that his friend has returned, standing outside as the snow falls. As the Kirkus review notes, “Did it come from magic or Grandma? Is there a difference?” Exactly. (Kim actually dedicates this book to his own grandmother, “who has always been there for me.”)

This is a tender, understated story with a big heart at its center (and a meaningful shooting star). Kim’s illustrations are velvety soft with an especially striking use of light (the sky lit by a setting sun, that shooting star that streaks across the sky more than once, and the warm, drowsy light of the cozy, snug bus). It’s a world you want to walk into, and it all adds up to a story that is sweet — but never saccharine. Here are some spreads so that the art can do the talking.


“Along came Mr. Bear’s bus. …”
(Click to enlarge spread and read text in its entirety)



“It was so cozy and warm on the bus.
Little Mole grew sleepy.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“That night, Little Mole couldn’t sleep.
Where did my friend go?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


LITTLE MOLE’S WISH. Copyright © 2019 by Sang-Keun Kim. Translation copyright © 2019 by Chi-Young Kim. Originally published in South Korea in 2017. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Schwartz & Wade, New York.

One comment to “Little Mole’s Wish

  1. What a beautiful book. I love the sleeping anaconda! Thank you!

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